We are three weeks into the season and the Phillies are third in the National League East with a 9-9 record, which is fairly impressive considering they have played the Mets and Nationals in 12 of the first 18 games.
And the experts are starting to take notice after the Phils took two of three from the Mets last week, followed up by a three-game sweep of the Braves over the weekend.
What the experts are saying
Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter moved the Phillies from 28 to 20 in his rankings this week. Reuter writes: "The pitching staff is falling into place, and that could help them hover around the .500 mark going forward."
His story was published before the news of Aaron Nola's trip to the 10-day DL broke this afternoon (see story), but it looks like the red-hot Nick Pivetta will be called up to take Nola's spot in the rotation. Pivetta is off to a blazing start in Triple A, going 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA, 24 strikeouts and two walks through three starts (see Future Phillies Report).
Reuter's only concern is the lack of offense. Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph have greatly underachieved in the first three weeks of the season. Franco is hitting .171 with three home runs and Joseph is hitting .200 with one homer.
Despite the lack of production from Franco and Joseph, the rest of the lineup has picked up the slack -- especially in the later innings. According to CSNPhilly's Corey Seidman, the Phillies lead the majors with six home runs in the eighth inning. They have also scored 27 runs in innings 7-9, which is third best in the NL behind the Diamondbacks and Nationals.
USA Today also bumped the Phillies up eight spots -- 27 to 19.
The only comment next to the ranking was: "Cesar Hernandez, your early-season MVP?"
MVP of the National League? Probably not. MVP of the Phillies? There is a case for that.
In 18 games, Hernandez has hit .338 with four home runs, 18 runs scored and an on-base percentage of .376. He leads the team in hits, average, home runs, slugging percentage and runs.
Hernandez had only six home runs last season and could tie or surpass that mark by the end of April.
FOX Sports' Dieter Kurtenbach moved the Phillies from 30 to 23. Kurtenbach writes: "A 5-1 week will get you out of the Power Rankings basement. The Phils won a series against the Mets and then swept the Braves this week."